Nobody Here But Us Chickens

Chicken: Photo by Erica Zahn via Wikimedia CommonsChicken: Photo by Erica Zahn via Wikimedia CommonsI would love to raise chickens. In theory. The reality is, of course, that I don't have enough time to raise chickens. I don't even change the kitty litter often enough.

Yet, the idea of going out to the coop on a Saturday morning to gather eggs for breakfast is very appealing. I also like the idea of utilizing the "natural fertilizer" they create to power the garden I have planned. Oh, and chickens are fun.

When my fifth grade class hatched chickens, I took home two of the hatchlings "Abbott" and "Costello", and kept them for eight weeks. The agreement was that I could keep them until they got too big for their cardboard box in the garage. At that point, they would be relocated to my dad's co-worker's farm, where they would live happy and productive lives. Unless they were actually an Abbott and a Costello instead of an Agatha and Costella. If they couldn't produce eggs, they were to end up at the kitchen table themselves.

Luckily for them, my names were incorrect.

In Des Moines, one is allowed under certain circumstances to keep a brood of chickens.

Article I, Section 18.4(h)

Small caged animals and fowl such as falcons, pigeons, pheasants, quail, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, ferrets and other small animals and fowl which are of such type and nature that state and national associations exist establishing norms for breeding, confining and rearing shall be allowed, provided that:

  1. Cages, hutches, coops, cotes, lofts or other confinement shall be at least 25 feet away from any neighboring residence; such enclosures shall be of sufficient size to house the number of animals or fowl permitted by state or national standards.
  2. The area is maintained free of odors, insects and rodents, and disturbing noises such as crowing, cackling and gobbling, causing no safety or health hazards to the general public or interfering with the enjoyment of life and property by any neighboring resident.
  3. Animals and fowl included in this subsection shall be fed in the confines of their enclosures; all grains and food shall be stored in rodentproof containers.
  4. On any parcel of land less than an acre, such animals shall be limited to two species and 30 in total number, unless by state and national standards more are permitted.
  5. On any parcel of land of one acre or more, such animals shall be limited to six species and 50 in total number for the first acre and 50 for each additional acre, unless by state and national standards more are permitted.
  6. No animal or fowl under this subsection may be maintained, enclosed or fenced in the front yard of a dwelling or within a dwelling.
  7. The young produced by any animals or fowl of this nature may be maintained with the parent animals for a period of approximately eight weeks but in no case more than ten weeks, unless by state and national standards a longer period is required.

If one follows the internets, so called "urban chickens" are making quite the comeback. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask) our lot is too small to house chickens. We may be able to do it legally on a thin strip of land in the middle of our yard, but the reality is that it is simply not feasible. I guess it's Dahl's for our eggs. Perhaps finding a cost-effective supplier at one of the local farmer's markets might be a reasonable compromise.

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